Author Topic: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?  (Read 8613 times)

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cabbageweevil

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #75 on: February 11, 2013, 03:24:22 PM »
KF - Well, I never. I'm reminded of the old usenet maxim that every spelling flame must have a typo in it, so obviously me flaming Bill Bryson had to have an error in it too. With regards to my own mother tongue, no less. All I can say is that I've never heard that, as I'm from Bremen (but I should have checked - as a translator I should know better). :)

cabbageweevil - I know what you mean. I've kinda gone off him and got rid of most of his books. At times I find him kinda prejudiced (sizeist, for one), and I'd hate to ever be his waitress.
Bryson -- yes -- one kind-of feels, "he's a national treasure, but not a particularly nice one".

cabbageweevil

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #76 on: February 11, 2013, 03:49:13 PM »
cabbageweevil, I think those of us with a lot of knowledge about specific things are always disappointed/amused when they get it so, so, so, so wrong.

I have to suspend my scientific knowledge for all of the crime shows.  I've worked in a lab; the equipment just doesn't function that way.

The worst one for me was a movie about a cryptosporidium outbreak, killing thousands of people.  Crypto is a parasite that can get into drinking water if it isn't properly filtered and treated.  Ultraviolet light will also inactivate crypto.

All their lab tests for crypto were ridiculously wrong but they did get the UV light thing right and they were setting it up at the city's water plant to purify the drinking water.  The only problem was that the plant they were showing in the background was very clearly a SEWAGE treatment plant.  Ummm, if you are feeding the city's water supply from the outflow of the city's sewage treatment plant, no wonder you've got problems!   ;D

Right: one sometimes has to think, just, "specialist nerd mode off / "

selkiewoman

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #77 on: February 11, 2013, 04:44:56 PM »
re Tim Burton's 'Alice', I do recognize artistic license, and it is Tim Burton after all, but it just hit a sour note with me - kind of like a wedding where the bride is wearing her school uniform.  I concede I am too easily offended by such things, just ask my family.

As to 'Mansfield Park', this was a 2007 ITV production.  Billie Piper's Fanny Price bounces and romps and chortles through the whole production, and although she is clearly of marriageable age, her hair is loose and dishevelled and looks as if it has never seen a hairbrush.  If you love Billie Piper you will probably love this, if you love Jane Austen and know anything at all  about upperclass manners of the period - probably not.

lady_disdain

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #78 on: February 11, 2013, 06:39:34 PM »
Mansfield Park is probably Austen's most butchered book when it comes to movie adaptations, probably because it is so hard for us, today, to identify with Fanny and understand her position, values and problems. It is also hard to see why Mary Crawford is such a problematic character. The 1999 version was quite a doozy in many aspects.

nuit93

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #79 on: February 11, 2013, 07:16:14 PM »
Quote
I being a railway nut, would be likely to be more upset than most people, by a bad anachronism in this sphere -- it's a pretty tiny and obscure thing, and I'm ready to accept admonitions about getting a life.

I think this is the key. It's knowing about something, and therefore noticing that it is wrong, which jolts you out of the story, I think. 

I  attended a discussion panel at a con once on this subject, one panel member commented that she could almost never watch/enjoy films or TV shows with (pre-mechanisation) battle scenes as she was an expert in respect of armour and mail, so even minor errors relating to the period of the armour or chain mail, shape/design of helmets etc was so glaring to her as to destroy any chance of being able to believe the story.

And I can live with a writer rearranging history if they are upfront about it - I cant now remember the specific book - but the book was set during the napoleonic wars and included some cameo appearances by the Duke of Wellington. The writer included a note saying that most of the specific incidents in the battle scenes had happened, and that the words attributed to Wellington were things he had said, but that the writer had, for the purpose of the plot, taken real incidents and used them in different battles, or given them to his/her characters instead of the the actual individuals who had seen/done them, and that the comments from Wellington had not necessarily been said at the times or in the situations where they appeared in the novel. That seems reasonable to me - after all, if you want your hero to (say) be first into the breach, or mentioned in dispatches, then you are going to have to displace a real figure to make it happen.

In a way, being knowledgeable about a particular field can be something of a curse ! I remember hearing from a fellow-railway-enthusiast, married to a nurse, about his wife's frequent responses -- ranging from hilarity to outrage -- re fictional things seen on television: medical-themed dramatic series, or "ditto" films, which for her violated reality.

Re historical stuff -- I agree, "triage" as mentioned, is a perfectly reasonable thing to do: one is looking at giving the broad picture for non-specialists, not at historical maxi-accuracy.

That reminds me of a professor I had in college (Renaissance-era Europe).  He HATED the movie "Elizabeth" because of the inaccuracies.

Dr. F.

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #80 on: February 11, 2013, 07:26:53 PM »
For me, it's the Southern California landscape. It's *very* distracting to be watching something set on Mars or somesuch and recognize the west side of the 15 heading up to the Grapevine. Or, on the other side, what is supposed to be LA that has mountains right up against the port. Um, no.

Elfmama

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #81 on: February 11, 2013, 09:07:47 PM »
I understand that birders get distracted, too, by birdcalls in movies.  If this is medieval England, why is that California Nutwhistle calling in the background?

And don't get me started about "Braveheart."
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amandaelizabeth

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #82 on: February 11, 2013, 09:13:51 PM »
Braveheart is a banned topic in our family.  We are all have our own pet peeve about at least one inaccuracy (all different) and I think there is an unspoken competition to be the most upset about it,

Oh and although we are of scots extraction, to put an Australian as the lead just makes it even more infuriating. 

Jocelyn

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #83 on: February 11, 2013, 10:22:55 PM »
Braveheart is a banned topic in our family.  We are all have our own pet peeve about at least one inaccuracy (all different) and I think there is an unspoken competition to be the most upset about it,

Oh and although we are of scots extraction, to put an Australian as the lead just makes it even more infuriating.
Mel Gibson was raised in Australia, but he was born and lived the first decade of his life in America.
It's no more illogical than having Kevin Costner as Robin Hood.  >:D

amandaelizabeth

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #84 on: February 11, 2013, 10:51:32 PM »
They get worse.  I have just collected a reserve book from the library.  Lord Gray's List.  A printed book.

Set in 1820.  I should have known.  On e cover is Lord Gray with Big Ben (no smirking please) which was not finished until 1859.

First chapter

He had made his fortune in the rail road.  Well not in Britain he did't.  It may have been railways but as the first line was not built until 1821 I dont see how he made is comfortable fortune.

And then there is these sentences.  "HIs ancestral home in the wilds of Scotland had begun as a humble fortified tower on a rocky promontory overlooking the sea.  Centuries of wind and neglect had driven his mother back into the bosum of London society as soon as his bellicose father had the courtesy to meet his end. 

A. Ouple of paprgraphs later we read that his mother was a well preserved 47.

I am not sure i am going to get past chapter 1.

caz

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #85 on: February 12, 2013, 03:49:53 AM »
Worst nonfiction book that I have ever read for accuracy was 'The Mother Tongue - English and how it got that way' by Bill Bryson. The guy is a journalist and only speaks English, and the stuff he put in his oeuvre where he compares English with other languages or talks about imported words seems to have been made up of factoids gathered from newspaper and magazine clippings, plus the occasional input of mischievous foreign waiters who knew he'd stiff them on tips and lied to him with smiles on their faces.
Amongst his claims:
- Finnish has no swearwords, so the Finnish say 'ravintolassa' (in the restaurant) instead
- he perpetuates the Eskimo vocabulary hoax about how many words for snow they have
- 'bumfodden' is not a German word for toilet paper
- According to him, 'The French for instance, cannot distinguish between house and home, between mind and brain, between man and gentleman', which must be news to the French (and certainly is to one Amazon reviewer)
- English is superior because other languages don't have thesauruses
-The existence of the word 'schadenfreude' is indicative of German sensibilities. Huh, German has no word for 'bully' - is that supposed to say anything about all those millions and millions of native English speakers?
-Esperanto has no definite article - yes it does

This goes on and on. I speak and read four languages to varying degrees and have studied and mostly forgotten two more, and he talks nonsense about every one of them. Reading the Amazon reviews is quite amusing, if a bit disheartening. The reviewers who speak any foreign languages or have a bit more insight into English linguistics think it is atrocious. Everyone else thinks it's wonderful because it's so funny, never mind the facts. There's even a teacher who says she'd still use it in her lessons because it got her kids so enthused. A book with an error on every page.

Agreed - I haven't read it in a while but a lot of the Irish information was wrong too.  It really upset me because I loved his books, and haven't been able to read them again :/

athersgeo

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #86 on: February 12, 2013, 04:28:35 AM »
In the "minute nitpicks" league: one of mine came to mind, with the discussion involving Paullina Simons's "The Bronze Horseman". I recall from the sequel to that novel, in which Tatiana manages to get out of the Soviet Union and become resident in the USA -- she has for some reason, to travel by rail from New York to Chicago or some similar journey.  The author has her dealing with "Amtrak", to undertake this journey. This made me wince, because this action is happening in 1946: Amtrak, the US united passenger-rail authority, did not come into being until 1971. Tatiana would have dealt with private railway company / companies. I being a railway nut, would be likely to be more upset than most people, by a bad anachronism in this sphere -- it's a pretty tiny and obscure thing, and I'm ready to accept admonitions about getting a life...

See, to me, that seems like a legitimate thing to nitpick about. Then again, I am the person who watched an adaptation of one of Robert Harris' books and spent half an hour whining about how they'd used the wrong coaching stock for the train...

Kind of you to say so !  My worst-ever railway-type clanger to date, is in the film of D.H. Lawrence's "Women in Love".  This film, set in 1913, has a sequence of the rakish hero racing, on his horse, a train hauling coal from a colliery. The locomotive heading the train is -- what was easily available locally, at the time of the film's making -- one of the "Austerity" loco type, built in large numbers in the UK in World War II and in the years following -- ugly but highly-serviceable machines, a fair few still running today on British preserved railways -- but utterly wrong for 1913 !  And, "insult to injury", the loco shown, is fitted with a strange-looking chimney of the "Giesl" type -- which improved draughting from the firebox, and was fitted in the 1960s to many locos on British colliery railways. Its Austrian inventor, Dr. Adolph Giesl-Gieslingen, was aged ten in 1913 -- he was a bright guy, but...!  (For film directors and most people, of course, "a steam loco is a steam loco, end-of..."; but being a specialist nitpicker, is fun !)

*snerk* I'm not to the level of being able to tell when they've got the wrong loco (despite my late father's better efforts!), although I do know just about enough to have at least frowned at an austerity in 1913.

However, I can actually go one worse than that: an adaptation of either an Agatha Christie novel or something similar had a train go into a tunnel with one locomotive at the front and come out being hauled by not just a different locomotive, but one from a completely different company and, hence, a completely different colour! That's a glitch that anyone paying at least a modicum of attention will spot.

It's almost as good as watching a low budget car chase and spotting when they've substituted the very expensive BMW for an extremely tatty looking Travant (not necessarily even the same colour) so that they don't crash the good car.......

I clearly need to find a better class of film!

cabbageweevil

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #87 on: February 12, 2013, 06:27:05 AM »
*snerk* I'm not to the level of being able to tell when they've got the wrong loco (despite my late father's better efforts!), although I do know just about enough to have at least frowned at an austerity in 1913.

However, I can actually go one worse than that: an adaptation of either an Agatha Christie novel or something similar had a train go into a tunnel with one locomotive at the front and come out being hauled by not just a different locomotive, but one from a completely different company and, hence, a completely different colour! That's a glitch that anyone paying at least a modicum of attention will spot.

It's almost as good as watching a low budget car chase and spotting when they've substituted the very expensive BMW for an extremely tatty looking Travant (not necessarily even the same colour) so that they don't crash the good car.......

I clearly need to find a better class of film!

And of course there was the business with the "Hogwarts Express".  I gather that J.K. Rowling has, and exercises, considerable power to have the content of the Harry Potter films agree with her vision for the books; and in the books, it is often mentioned, and made very clear, that the Hogwarts Express is red. In the light of this, the choice of motive power for the H.E. in the films, was a little unfortunate.  The preserved steam loco used in the role, is no. 5972 "Olton Hall", of Britain's former Great Western Railway. The Great Western was a railway of strong and very individual character, and many British railfans adore it with a devotion which goes beyond fanatical. The Great Western always painted its passenger locos dark green; it never, ever had a red locomotive.  And of course, the loco used in the films had to be painted red. To quite a number of the more extreme Great Western fans, doing that to a G.W.R. locomotive was blasphemy. They were furious -- I believe a couple of death threats were even made.

I understand that the director of the first Potter film (I'm not really heavily into films, and his name escapes me) went round one of Britain's major steam preservation sites, from which he planned to hire a locomotive to haul the Hogwarts Express. No. 5972 is of a very handsome loco type: the director's eye fell on it, and it was love at first sight. Those in charge of the venue, foreseeing the problems about painting it red, tried hard to persuade the director to pick another loco -- one which was red already, or one of a variety which did not tend to attract fanatical worshippers -- but it was no use: 5972 was the one which the director had to have.

Gwywnnydd

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #88 on: February 12, 2013, 11:55:48 AM »
Mansfield Park is probably Austen's most butchered book when it comes to movie adaptations, probably because it is so hard for us, today, to identify with Fanny and understand her position, values and problems. It is also hard to see why Mary Crawford is such a problematic character. The 1999 version was quite a doozy in many aspects.

I did like the final effect of the rewrite of Miss Crawford's commentary, because it demonstrated to the modern audience exactly how apallingly offensive her comments were.
The friends I went to see the movie with would have missed the subtlety of what she was saying, if it hadn't been all lumped together in a single scene.

Thipu1

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Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
« Reply #89 on: February 12, 2013, 11:59:08 AM »
Re Bill Bryson:

Thanks for bursting my balloon.  I mean that in a good way. 

I loved Bryson's books but now, I'm going to have to read them again with a more critical eye.

There are always things to be learned on E-Hell.